Looking Ahead: Meeting Trend Forecast for 2021

The face of business meetings changed dramatically in 2020. The pandemic was unexpected, forcing changes in how we work globally. Months later, many are still working remotely, meeting via video conferences, hybrid meetings, or in grand spaces where everyone can practice proper social distancing. 

Meeting Trends for 2021

In light of this, hotels are working deliberately to utilize their space in a way to make meetings more effective given the new protocols. What started out as an immense challenge has completely dismantled the corporate meeting status quo, making room for innovative ideas that are adding fresh energy to gatherings of old.

While work and meetings might not ever look exactly the same, these changes have created opportunities to continue having successful meetings in new ways.

With all of this in mind, here are a few of our predictions for the 2021 meeting season.  

Hybrid Meetings 

Primarily, hybrid meetings are here to stay. The beauty of hybrid meetings is that they can have as many in-person attendees as current circumstances allow, while still offering a virtual component for those unable to attend. Hotel and conference center venues have been proactive in creating environments that support and allow for socially distanced meetings of these types of attendees.

2021 meeting trends | inn at virginia tech

Expect Social Distancing Measures 

This might look like having fewer attendees so you can use the space that you have available to you or looking for a larger hosting space that will allow for more people to attend. If you are planning an event, do keep that in mind while deciding where to host. 

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It’s helpful to have an open discussion with your venue about your needs to determine if they can accommodate your event safely. 

Higher Sanitation

You might need to plan for more time between sessions to ensure that there is plenty of time to sanitize everything. With frequent sanitation, staffing may be more prominent or visible, especially around locations and items that are frequently touched such as luggage carts, check-in desks, doorknobs and handles, and elevators.

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Both outdoor and large indoor venues are growing in popularity to ensure that there is plenty of space and airflow. This makes sanitation easier and increases the safety for all participants. Outdoor locations allow for greater airflow which might put attendees at ease, while large indoor locations allow for large screens with videos and screens to be used without the need to plan for weather or trying to find an outdoor venue with a large cover.

2021 meeting trends | inn at virginia tech

Personal Protective Equipment

Expect protective equipment to be required. Items like masks, gloves, and visors may or may not be provided by venues, so be in contact with them to see if you need to provide these items for your meetings. You might be required to have pamphlets or signage reminding attendees of the requirement to wear their equipment.

Dining Opportunities

Traditional buffets might be a thing of the past but attended buffets are an ingenious way to offer the same choices safely. Having venue staff place the food on attendees’ plates limits the number of people touching serving utensils while still offering delicious choices.

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In-room meals are also growing in popularity in order to keep meeting attendees in one room, rather than traveling throughout the venue for meals. Additionally, bento-style lunches are a great choice for groups. These allow guests to be served individual boxes that can include their entire meal in separate compartments.

Be sure to inform attendees about the options for meals so they know what to expect.

2021 meeting trends | inn at virginia tech

Meetings and conferences might be resuming, but things will be changing. We encourage you to get in contact with your venue in advance to see what their process will be as everyone has created their own plan that works well for them.

With the ingenuity and quick thinking of venue staff, one would almost wonder, do we really want to go back to the way it was? Meetings can be just as productive and more innovative than ever!

If you are looking for a meeting venue, we would be happy to provide you with more information about our hotel and conference center, what our process looks like, and how we would be a great fit for you. Learn more here >>

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